my soft spot

just a mom who plays hockey and knits

Friday, March 21, 2008

Doing the right thing, even when it's painful

G is on a new regimen. He gets a gold star on a specific calendar at home when he has a day where he doesn't hit or hurt anyone. He got gold stars Monday through Wednesday, and was allowed to pick out a magnet from a set of zoo magnets I bought as rewards.

When he does hit or hurt anyone, he loses reading--specifically, his current book in the Redwall series. He is loving these books. He loses the book for 24 hours from when I hear of the incident.

I thought long & hard about this punishment. How can I take away reading? Reading is so basic, so essential. Then I ran into his K teacher and we talked about his behavior and I brought up that he had lost Wii privileges for 13 days straight and it had no effect. "The only thing he loves more is reading! How can I take away reading?" I asked. "You can take away reading," she assured me. So when he loses reading, he loses his book but can read whatever he needs to read at school.

Last night, I walked over from church to pick him up from his aftercare. We walked out the back door and were in the parking lot a few steps later. A car went into reverse and I warned him that he had to close his book now for safety's sake. He wanted to finish the sentence. I closed the book and took it from him. He hit me, and I told him he'd now lost reading for 24 hours.

He fell apart. Just lost it. Said "But I need it!" about 15 times. It was so sad to see him lose it so thoroughly.

But at the same time, it felt... right. He stopped hitting me, he was profoundly affected by it, it just seemed to have the right effect. When he got it together a bit, he tried negotiating: "How about 24 minutes?" (Nice try, bud.)

We walked on, and when we got to the car, I opened it to put the book in while we went inside for dinner. After I closed the door, he kicked the car. I looked down, saw that the car wasn't dented in any way, and didn't stop him. He kicked the car 10 more times and then seemed to lose steam. I told him that kicking the car was a fine way to express his anger. We talked a bit more ("What time will I get my book back?") and went inside to dinner.

He was squirmy and unsettled at dinner and I seriously considered leaving a few times. I had made the soup for everyone, but I figured if we left that I would just get my pot back whenever. But I didn't feel like making dinner twice. Who knows? Maybe it would have been better.

I did enjoy it, though, after we got through the prayer (which the minister did twice, as about 10 people arrived late). G started mouthing off during the second prayer, so I took him out of the room and then served him soup first. I realized later that he was so hungry, and he has a hard time self-regulating when he gets hungry. So giving him a bowl of soup early was a good idea.

In the long run, the punishment and the system itself did feel right. It was so nice to feel in control in the face of G's flying apart. I feel like we're on the right road.


At 4:32 PM, March 27, 2008, Blogger Dharma said...

Hard stuff but really good. Glad to hear that it feels right.


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